Knowing how to save money while you’re travelling not only means you can travel more often and more spontaneously. It can also mean your travel experiences are different to a lot of others on the road. Here are our tips and tricks for getting the most out of your travel dollar.
– plus your chance to win $2000 to spend on flights in our latest competition!
People say travelling’s expensive, but depending on where you live, it can be cheaper than living at home (I’m looking at you, Sydney!). So making the most of the annual leave you get from work is even more important.
When we’re planning our trips, we’ve found it makes things easier it down into 2 main sections: before you travel and while you’re actually on the road.
Thinking about these areas separately makes it easier not only to choose your destination but also to stretch out your spending.
How to save money while you’re travelling
Before you go
Choose destinations that are out of season
Every destination has a peak time when prices are higher. For example, southern Europe in August is notoriously busy and expensive.
Just because a place isn’t in peak season doesn’t make it a bad place to go. In fact, we often prefer it; things are quieter, local pricing can be cheaper, it’s probably more affordable to get there… there are hosts of reasons.
Obviously this can be harder if you have kids, as school holidays ‘conveniently fall’ within the most expensive time to travel.
If you can’t change your travel dates, you can still look for interesting destinations that aren’t at full peak price.
Look out for the best flight prices
Flights can really eat into your total travel budget, so it’s smart to take advantage of discounts and sales. Simply Googling ‘cheap flights’ brings up an impossible number of results, but using smart aggregator engines like Cheapflights can give you some of the best deals. Mrs R promises she’s only window shopping, but there are some very tempting deals around!
According to their research data, flying on a Wednesday, booking more than 2 months and up to 6 months in advance, and making savvy destination decisions will save you a packet.
From Australia and New Zealand, choosing the right Southeast Asian holiday will also keep your budget under control. Watch this space for some of our latest hot tips for where to go and what to do in Thailand and Malaysia – 2 of Cheapflights’ top rating destinations.
Look for emerging travel trends
Places that have a perennial tourist trade will always be more expensive. However, there’s always somewhere that’s just being ‘discovered’ as a great travel destination. Often these places are popular not only for their natural beauty or cultural identity, but because they’re cheap and the groundbreaking travel set often have the keenest eye for a culturally rich bargain.
Places like Burma and Brunei are looking like they’re about to really hit it off with the travel community. They’re both safe destinations that are cheap to get to, plus you haven’t seen it all on Instagram before.
Although not as cheap to get to, the Philippines is on our radar. Here are our ‘hot tips from a local’ reasons to head to the Philippines.
Research your currency
As countries’ stocks rise and fall, so the exchange rate can work in your favour. The changing value of the dollar can make or break your travel budget. Having an ear close the ground of the financial market will help.
It’s worth watching the financial reports or setting up alerts for changes in currencies for your top travel destinations.
On the road
Especially if you’re in SE Asia, asking about upgrades can get you anything from a nicer room, late checkouts or even executive lounge access. When we’re in Thailand, we always pay that bit extra to upgrade to the executive rooms. It’s not that much more and improves your experience 10-fold.
Just ask as you check in to your hotel if there is any chance of an upgrade. If the hotel’s not busy, you might even get a freebie. Otherwise simply asking if this is their best rate can also result in the hotel discounting your rate.
Always walk away from the main tourist areas when choosing a restaurant. You’ve got a better chance of finding a hidden gem, an authentic meal and probably more realistic prices too.
If you’re new to a city and you’re not sure where to go, always ask the concierge or reception. These guys are amazing and are the most trustworthy for the most up-to-date info you can find.
Otherwise, finding a quiet bar or café and asking the staff there will usually give you some priceless local knowledge. And keeping it in the industry will work better than asking someone in a shoe shop for food tips.
Buy a drink or something before you mine them for info though.
Even if you’re in a small hotel room with nothing but a minibar fridge, you can still self-cater lunch (and breakfast if it’s not included). Buying ingredients at a supermarket and assembling on your balcony or in a park can be much more cost effective not to mention more romantic.
For places like South East Asia, you’re better off with proper hotels, but Europe, the States and Australia can provide some serious savings using this service. We’ve used AirBnB quite a few times and, providing you research the places properly, you can have a very unique experience living more like a local.
Although a controversial product, Uber and Uber X is a good way to save money on things like airport transfers and getting around. Contrary to what some people think, Uber is safe and you often get to meet some really interesting people – like Hamid here. We met him in Kuala Lumpur and will continue to stay in touch with him until our next visit to Malaysia.
The relationship between taxis and Uber drivers isn’t the best at the moment, so it’s probably best to use a bit of discretion and avoid trying to meet your Uber driver at a taxi rank.
Fill up on breakfast
If your hotel rate includes breakfast, make sure you eat enough so that you only need a couple of snacks while you’re out exploring during the day. It’s a good way to avoid the terrors of ‘hangry’ and frees you from worrying if you’re out of range of a food source.
Learning the public transport system of a city not only brings you a great insight into the place’s people and gives you a different perspective of the place itself, it’s always cheaper than taxis.
Creating your own walking tour is not only free, it’s our most favourite way to see a new place. Plus it gives you a bit of exercise! If you’re not sure of where you want to go, once again ask your concierge or reception. Tell them you want to walk around the city – they will give you some ideas.
Switch off expensive roaming functions and make the most of your hotel wifi. There are lots of offline navigation apps out there like Galileo where you can preload maps onto your phone and still find your way about.
If you’re in the same country for a couple of weeks, it’s probably worth getting a local SIM.
We usually take a small amount of cash with us on the plane and then visit an ATM when we’re there. The important thing to remember here is to choose your ATM carefully. To make the most of our withdrawal, we get a fair amount of cash out, so choosing one that’s safe is important.
Also a bit of research will tell you which banks at your destination are affiliated with your home bank and will charge lower (or possibly no) transaction fees.
Free entry days at certain attractions
Looking out for local attractions having free days is a great way to save your tourist dollars. For example, the Louvre is free on the first Sunday of the month between October and March and MoMA in NYC is free on Friday nights.
So that’s how we make the most of our travel budget. And now on to the first step: finding a likely place to spend our time and money! Check out Cheapflights for flight price comparisons and spotting travel trends. It’s a great place to start your journey.
To help you escape the chills this winter, Cheapflights has a competition for you to win $2000 to spend on flights!
It’s easy to get involved:
• Post a picture on Instagram that represents your ‘summer dreaming’ and add a caption that best sums up the photo.
• Tag @cheapflights in the post and use the hashtag #CheapflightsWinterEscape.
The competition is open to residents in Australia and New Zealand aged 18 years and over only. Entries close Monday 18 July 2016 at 11.55pm BST, so don’t hang about!
What do you do to save money while you’re travelling? What’s your favourite travel tip? Share it with us here in the comments below!
Brought to you by Cheapflights
Great tips, we’re always turning our phones off and buying local SIMs to save on roaming charges
Cheers Dave! Good luck for the comp too 🙂
Ooh cool comp! And love your saving tips!
Cheers Sarah, it’s a great competition – wish we could enter! 😉
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
Agree with so many tips here and I learned a few things too. Okay I’m going to look into travelling on Wednesdays. It makes sense as I guess most people would want to fly on Friday nights or on weekends.